The cherry-blossom season is turning our town pink again. Many people are planning to go hanami picnic with family and friends, and it is always important to pick a good place where everybody can chill and have fun. Hanami is one of the most famous traditions in Japan, if you see from the word, “hana” means flower and “mi” means to see, when they come together, it means to enjoy and appreciate the blooming of “Sakura”(cherry blossoms).
There are many popular spots where you can do hanami in Tokyo such as Ueno park, Meguro river and Shinjuku gyoen. They are all beautiful but super crowded at the same time. Therefore, I would recommend you to go check out this special cherry blossom tree in Saitama prefecture called Ishitokabazakura. It is one of the five cherry blossom trees that are certified as natural monument in Japan. Ishitokabazakura is located in Kitamoto city, which is east-central Saitama Prefecture where I live. I was really surprised when I realized my town has such a beautiful tree. Kitamoto is about 40 minutes away from Tokyo by train. If you are planning to go there, I think it would be good to check out the other places in Saitama too. You can take Shonanshinjuku line from Shibuya or Shinjuku, it goes straight to Kitamoto. When you get to kitamoto, you will have to take a bus at the west exit. There are 3 or 4 buses coming every hour. Do check the bus schedule before you come!
The terminal stop of this bus will be your destination. You will see a totally different view from Tokyo on your way. Walk along the streets about 10 minutes when you get off the bus, and you will see some pink lanterns, and that is where Ishitokabazakura’s located. Those lanterns are for celebrating the festival of cherry blossom. There will also be some food stalls around, you can try some local food for example, tomato ricecake. After you try out the food, it is time to appreciate the 800-year-old cherry blossom tree.
As you can see, Ishitokabazakura is enormous. It is 12 meters high, 7.5 meters thick, and named after a samurai lord. It says that the tree had 4 trunks, but in the 1970s only one trunk was left and the tree was dying. There was a team called “Saving Ishitokabazakura”, they tried many ways to recover the tree vigor, and finally the tree bloomed for the first time in 10 years in 1977. Ever since then, the team has tried to give the root nutrition without hurting it. 12 years passed, the tree has revived and is growing sturdily now, it was a miracle.
Also, there is a tiny temple next to the tree that is worth stopping by. Ishitokabazakura usually blooms in early April till mid-April. The cherry blossom festival will be held on 7th and 8th. There are actually a lot of cherry blossom trees around in Kitamoto. Lastly, if it is late and you wonder what to eat for dinner, you should definitely try the Kitamoto only tomota curry.
I have seen Ishitobazakura many times. I got overwhelmed by the vitality of it every time I saw it. If you have never seen a magnificent old sakura tree, come to Kitamoto and visit Ishitokabazakura, please!
|Title||The miracle of "Ishitokabazakura"|
|Address||3-119 Ishitoshuku | Tokoji Temple, Kitamoto 364-0025, Saitama Prefecture|
|Access||JR Kitamoto sation west exit. Bus stop no.1(bound for Kitasato University Medical Center) get off the bus at terminal stop|